Over £2 million funding secured for musculoskeletal research centre

Tuesday 25 June 2019

A SPECIALIST centre which helps people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions keep working has won renewed funding, enabling it to continue helping those with long-term conditions.

The £2.2m award ensures the collaborative centre will continue to make an impact on reducing the burden of work disability caused by musculoskeletal conditions

Researchers from the University of Salford, working with colleagues from the University of Southampton and others, have contributed to a successful collaborative application to renew the National Centre of Excellence for Musculoskeletal Health and Work for a further five years (2019-24). 

The UK has the highest rates of new claims for disability of any of the Organisation of Economic and Commercial Development (OECD) countries with the two most common causes of disability being musculoskeletal disorders and mental health conditions.

The cash, awarded by Versus Arthritis and the Medical Research Council, is to continue discovering and developing cost-effective ways to reduce the burden of work disability caused by musculoskeletal conditions (MSDs). These include inflammatory arthritis, osteoarthritis, low back pain, gout and rarer conditions such as lupus, which cost an estimated 31 million working days to be lost each year (i.e. 23% of all working days lost).

Professor Alison Hammond, of the Human Movement Technology and Rehabilitation Group, School of Health and Society, is leading the work research programme at the University of Salford, in collaboration with Centre researchers at Manchester and Lancaster. 

Professor Hammond said: “At Salford, our research is focusing on how NHS therapists can keep people working. Our research is:  identifying the work problems experienced by working people with MSDs; developing assessments to identify their work problems and to evaluate work rehabilitation; and completing a clinical trial testing work rehabilitation for working people with arthritis.  Up to 50% of working people with inflammatory arthritis stop working within 5 years of diagnosis. Many struggle at work due to pain and fatigue, which are often hidden to others. With the right self-management advice and practical support many could keep working.” 

A spokesperson for funders Versus Arthritis, said:

“Arthritis and related conditions affect 17.8 million people in the UK and can cause excruciating pain and fatigue. Living with these conditions can steal people’s independence, preventing them from being able to remain in work. Our insight shows many people leave work due to lack of support, suitable adjustments and understanding of their condition from employers. It’s no surprise then that musculoskeletal conditions are the second leading cause of days lost at work.We are therefore proud to support, alongside the MRC, the Centre for a further 5 years.”

The Centre, established in 2014 with an initial investment of £1.4 million over 5 years, is coordinated from the University of Southampton’s Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit. The National Centre involves multidisciplinary collaboration with the Universities of Southampton,  Salford, Aberdeen, Bath Spa, Keele, Lancaster, Liverpool, and Manchester and colleagues at Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, the King’s Centre for Military Health Research and the Institute for Employment Studies.

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Sam Wood

0161 295 5361